Tag Archives: Civilization

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 9781447268970
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 333
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I could have easily finished this book in a day. That’s what I normally do when I start reading a book and I am totally immersed in it. That was also the case with “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. I was gripped by the prose and the beauty of the language and I could have finished it in one day. But my journey or love affair with the book lasted for five days and I also know that it does not end here. I will constantly keep thinking of the book, and will also reread my favourite parts which I have marked and will cherish for a long time to come.

On the surface of things, “Station Eleven” might seem to be just another post-apocalyptic novel, but it is way beyond that. It is a testimony to us being human and more than anything else, to the survival power art can have in our lives and to a very large extent about the role of memory and how it can be, both cruel and kind.

“Station Eleven” is more than the regular novel, well at least to me it is. Why do you ask? Because it makes you feel things on a different level. How else can I put it? It also makes you perhaps live this life a little better than you already are and if a book manages to do that, then it is supreme to me.

“Station Eleven” is not about the end of the world, as most people say it is. It is to me the beginning of a new world and new hopes and aspirations that never die, no matter what. The book is about a pandemic that wipes out almost three-quarters of the world and more. There is nothing left. The old world or the world that we knew is gone. The new world has no electricity, no cars, no Internet, you get the drift. People drift. People try and settle. Things are no longer what they used to be at all.

Twenty years have passed since. Humans are trying very hard to reconstruct life – new ways, new means and The Traveling Symphony, that travels on foot, putting up performances – musical and that of Shakespeare. Amidst this there is a prophet and his band of people which the Traveling Symphony encounter and from there things go haywire. And I cannot forget at the core of all of this, lies a comic, which you will only know more about, when you read the book.

Of course, I cannot say much because that would mean giving away the plot, which I do not want to. Memory plays a major role in the book, as I mentioned earlier. It is these memories that help people survive the new world and also for some it seems best to forget them, in order to move on. The small bits of the book make it so worthwhile a read: When newscasters say goodbye, when there is a glimmer of hope that maybe things will not be the same and someone will come to rescue the living, when people will do anything to hang on to faith of any kind because it is so needed, when you don’t realize that this might be the last cup of coffee you drink or the last orange you eat and when the most insignificant things become the most significant.

“Station Eleven” manages to evoke multiple emotions in you as a reader. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it even makes you want to believe in humanity when it is dying all around you in the book, but I think above all it makes you hope, no matter what. The idea is not about apocalypse or what happened in the new world, as much as it is about reinventing and recreating the world with memories. The book is about the connections we have with people (as the six people in this book do with each other in some or the other manner), about how the beauty of the world can never be lost, about life hangs on to the very end and how perhaps we need to give ourselves more credit for being human. I cannot stop recommending this book enough and I will not. I think everyone should read this book, just about everyone.

Here is the book trailer:

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Book Review: The Harappa Files by Sarnath Banerjee

Title: The Harappa Files
Author: Sarnath Banerjee
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 9789350290316
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
PP: 214 pages
Price: Rs. 499
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

From Corridor to The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, I have loved Sarnath Banerjee’s writing. The bite in the humour is enough to crack you up and at the same time contemplate on the condition of things around you and he manages to evoke those feelings without trying too hard. All of this while presenting his works in the graphic form. So it is no surprise that I would highly recommend, “The Harappa Files” to anyone who reads or cares to read books.

“The Harappa Files” is an unusual piece of work (like the other two written by him) and it chronicles India of the 80’s and how somehow India is still stuck there – right where we thought we had developed from. These forty-one short vignettes not only represent a rude slice-of-life, they also cut across strata and class, reflecting society in all its fragmented and disconnected sense.

The Harappa Commission is set up by the dodgiest of various professionals from different strata of the society who come together to compile the societal concerns in the form of a graphic novel and in the introduction, hire the services of the author. While it is as simple as it looks, well it isn’t that simple anyway. The layers are hidden and somehow the reader is left wanting for more. The pieces individually collected are brilliant – from the terrible traffic jams to how Lifebuoy is the soap of the common man to masculinity to sugar as a luxury commodity – just about a commentary on everything of and about the society.

The illustrations are simple and not complex. They read more like illustrations with text (that was the idea anyway I am guessing) rather than a graphic novel. There is supposed to be a sequel to this one – as this one is only Volume 1. I for one cannot wait for an absurd sequel. Read it if you want a good laugh, fifteen minutes is the reading time and an hour of contemplation.

You can purchase the book here on Flipkart